Waking up the casino and hospitality industry in the United States is this week’s main topic, with businesses trying to reopen amid the still developing COVID-19 outbreak.
Caesars Reveals Names of Properties to Reopen First in The Strip
Caesars Entertainment announced on Thursday, May 21, that the company is prepared to restart operations in the United States, and specifically Las Vegas. The hospitality and gaming giant is planning to relaunch The Flamingo and Caesars Palace first while observing all health and safety protocols.
The move will allow Caesars to bring employees back to work and also offer visitors a place to game and stay. While the Nevada Gaming Control Board has to give the go-ahead, Gov. Steve Sisolak has said that health officials and the gaming control board will have to decide when and under what specific conditions reopening should happen.
Nevada and the NGCB have already issued such guidelines for their Phase One of the reopening drive earlier this month, allowing businesses to plan ahead. Caesars won’t be the only property to reopen, though. MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands are both joining the properties to restart operations in The Strip, begging the question if demand will meet supply.
Atlantic City Hotels Start Accepting Reservations
Atlantic City is moving towards the reopening of its hotels, with properties now accepting reservations and many starting to welcome visitors and guests as early as next week. While New Jersey never shut down hotels per se, many properties, that usually go hand-in-hand with casinos, have opted out of receiving guests, with global air traffic suspended and casinos in the country shutting down at 100%.
Properties such as Tropicana, Caesars, and Resorts Casino Hotel and others. Many properties have chosen to furlough casino workers, but others still have decided to retain staff and keep paying wagers through most of April and May. A return to normality in June is hoped for, but a more conservative approach sees tourism starting to pick up only around July.
Steve Wynn Emerges in a FOX Interview to Comment on Las Vegas’ Recovery
Fallen-from-grace casino mogul Steve Wynn appeared earlier this week on FOX to comment the recovery of Las Vegas and its dependency on an airline with Macau. The former Wynn CEO said that Las Vegas would be very sensitive to traffic – or lack thereof – from Asia, and specifically Macau.
With some 150,000 rooms available, the only way to reach a decent occupancy rate over the next several months. He also noted that while Macau may have seen a fairly good post-COVID-19 results, with casino measures clearly working, Chinese gamblers have not been allowed to travel to Macau due to a border closure imposed by China.
Without air traffic from China and Macau, Wynn cautioned, Las Vegas will struggle to come close to good operational results and have to face about more restrictive measures and an economic downturn.
Self-Cleaning Slots Machines to Save Casinos in the United States
The idea that machines will take over our jobs doesn’t sound that bad in light of COVID-19. Recently, the idea of self-cleaning slot machines has been introduced and now scientists from UNLV will put this to a test and see if the self-sanitizing machines can actually prevent the spread of coronavirus in casinos.
According to Dr. Brian Hedlund, a microbiology professor from UNLV, UVC light should help slots eliminate any pathogens lingering on the slot’s surfaces.
Running the tests will be easy enoughDr. Hedlund explained
The team he’s in charge will spray aerosols of different microorganisms onto surfaces and then test the lights to see if they will be efficient in killing the germs and bacteria. However, testing UVC on COVID-19 will be a challenge in itself as the virus is contagious, it has shown resistance and it might end up infecting the team.
Begone Parking Fees, Says MGM Resorts
In a bid to attract paying customers, MGM Resorts has decided to drop parking fees in Las Vegas, part of the company’s reopening efforts. Presently, the company owns nine hotels in The Strip, and it plans to restart operations by first bringing New York-New York and Bellagio back online.
“MGM Resorts is updating many of our offerings as we prepare to welcome guests back, and that includes implementing free parking,” the company said in an update.
AGA Calls for Higher Jackpot Reporting Threshold
The current COVID-19 lockdown has definitely bitten into the results of all businesses and especially the casino industry. However, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has been able to see a few positives in what is a bleak situation.
Citing a recent executive order that will look into incentivizing the economy and job creation after the current lockdown, AGA CEO Bill Miller said that one of the measures that can help the casino industry, without tangling up too much resort, would be to raise the jackpot reporting limit, citing the current $1,200 threshold inadequate.
Instead, Mr. Miller would much rather see the reporting threshold set at $5,000, which he believes better reflects the realities today. The previous threshold was issued over 20 years ago, making it not an ideal guidance.
Mr. Miller argued that if players are free of filling tax forms at the casino, that would help the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as it wouldn’t need to deal with negligible amounts that nevertheless require their paperwork.
Not least, when a jackpot is won, the slot has to be temporarily suspended from operation, until the casino and winner finalize the tax return form.
Seminole Hard Rock Reopens Draws Fair Share of Patrons
The Seminole Hard Rock Casino reopened on Thursday, welcoming a decent number of patrons. The casino had issued invitations to some 1,000 people who arrived duly, followed by another 3,000 – 4,000 patrons over the course of the evening.
The casino was allowed to operate at 50% capacity, and Plexiglas and protective gear could be seen everywhere. All croupiers and casino staff wore masks and hand gloves whereas patrons were allowed to continue touching the chips without any protective gear. Masks for patrons were optional, although recommended.